Risks must be taken, because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing. The person who risks nothing does nothing, has nothing, and is nothing. Only the person who risks is free. Never avoid risk in favor of security. Helen Keller suggested that security is a myth. She said, “If life is not a series of risks, then it is nothing.”
Bob Proctor espouses that to laugh is to risk appearing the fool. To weep is to risk appearing sentimental. To reach out to another is to risk involvement. To express feelings is to risk exposing your true self. To place your ideas, your dreams before the crowd is to risk their loss. To love is to risk not being loved in return. To live is to risk dying. To hope is to risk despair. To try is to risk failure. Nevertheless, risks must be taken, because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing. If you do not risk, you may avoid suffering and sorrow, but you cannot learn, feel, change, grow, love, or live. Only a person who risks is free.
What causes individuals to shy away from taking a risk, even if it is a low risk and will give them something they really want? Certainly high on most people’s lists would be the fear of loss, failure, and perceived humiliation. Proctor thinks we should start by realising that the good we realise when we step out and take a risk is only part of the gain. “The real win is the confidence and experience we acquire, which translate into new opportunities for growth, enjoyment, and expansion in all areas of life.”
RISK IS NOT
You must understand that risk is not synonymous with gambling. Risk taking is not gambling in any sense of the word. We learnt last week that the truly big winners in the world are the individuals who make decisions. They also take risks, but they do not view their decisions as gambling. The big winners in life are focused on where they are headed and what they are doing, and typically, they are involved in a big idea. The big winners in life are confident. They never imagine that they will fail. They are prepared to put everything into making it happen: their energy, their time, their money.
RISK TAKING IS
A little baby is a natural-born risk taker. The baby never considers the consequences of falling when it is learning to walk. Falling is acknowledged as a natural consequence of learning to walk. It is not gambling. Everyone knows that the baby will fall but that ultimately the baby will learn to walk. Neither the baby nor the baby’s parents ever considered the option that the baby would NOT learn to speak or master a myriad of motor skills simply to avoid stumbling.
Why is it that we do not see the process of reaching our goals as having steps similar to the ones the baby must take in order to learn to walk? There will be some stumbling and falling in the learning process, but we can reach success only when we are prepared to take those steps, all of them, even the ones where we may fall down. You must constantly challenge yourself.
Proctor believes that over 90 percent of us are the product of someone else’s way of thinking. Make a decision right now to change. Decide this very moment that from now on, there will be no more playing it safe—just freedom. No more saving it for a rainy day. When people are caught up in the habit of saving for a rainy day, that is generally what they get—a rainy day. Open the doors of your mind and step out where the sun shines. You may get some liquid sunshine, but no more rainy days. If you dream of living your life in a big way, you must accept risk taking as a part of the apprenticeship that you must serve.
G.I. Gurdjieff once wrote, “The first reason for man’s inner slavery is his ignorance, and above all his ignorance of himself. Without self-knowledge, without understanding the workings and function of his machine, man cannot be free. He cannot govern himself. He will always remain a slave, the plaything of forces acting upon him.” Perhaps this is why in all ancient teachings, the first demand at the beginning of the way to liberation was to know thyself. “Know thyself” is liberating advice.
The late William Penn Patrick has this marvelous quote about risk and resistance: “No person, idea, or institution becomes great until great resistance has been encountered. Greatness cannot be achieved until this concept is understood. Unfortunately, the average person is ignorant of this rule to achievement.”
Most people, in their ignorance, are fearful and reluctant to take risks, to encounter even the slightest resistance. They do not want to try or be criticized, and they believe that criticism will hold them back and prevent them from realising happiness. In truth, the opposite is the case.
When we begin to take real risks, we are first given resistance by our loved ones. They fear change, because change means facing the unknown. When we begin to make rapid achievement or commitment to rapid progress, we have roadblocks thrown up by our friends and relatives.
They begin to resist with negative comments and actions, which are devices to cause us to maintain the status quo. “Don’t risk, be sure, play it safe.” That is what they are asking us to do. If you are to achieve great progress, you must take risks, and you must prevail against those closest to you. This is difficult and requires courage, because you desire to please and not hurt those you love.
The truth is that great harm befalls your loved ones when you fail to be yourself and do your thing, because you lose your enthusiasm for life. Your growth process stops, and your self-esteem diminishes. You reverse those negatives when you stand your ground, when you take the risks. When you have prevailed, your loved ones gain a new, higher respect for you.
Proctor accentuates that these next, few short years will record a brilliant history and establish a permanent place for our way of life, which is freedom to be and to work out dreams for a great world, for ourselves, for our children, and for all of humankind. Understand our battle, and be gratified that you are a part of the making of history. The work you do today can provide new freedom and hope for millions yet to come.
Successful people often fall from grace after reaching the pinnacle of their careers. You need to keep pursuing, keep on doing, looking for new and better ways to grow, to change, to expand beyond the position that you have reached. You must keep taking risks.
This is not change for change’s sake, but for the sake of growth. It does not matter how much we change, provided we are changing, risking, improving, and growing. To continue with positive and dynamic motion in our personal and business lives, we need a track to run on.
We need to ask ourselves deep, penetrating questions frequently as a constant checkup. Answering these questions honestly will make you aware that your life can make a difference, a big difference. You have the talent and ability, along with an infinite source of potential, to develop yourself into something great, to do work that really counts.
George Bernard Shaw once said, “This is the true joy of life, the being used for a purpose recognised by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.” As he says, the real key to living a fulfilled life lies in doing great work, but great work is always preceded by many risks.
BY CAPT SAM ADDAIH (RTD)